the Tori Amos
T I M E L I N E

1997 - 1998



January 23, 1997

* Tori performs a special benefit concert for RAINN in New York City at the Theatre at Madison Square Garden.

January 29, 1997

* Tori's sixth appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman in New York City. She performs Silent All These Years, to promote the re-release of the single as a RAINN fundraiser. [click for photos]

February 1997

* Tori travels to "the tropics" (Florida) and writes From the Choirgirl Hotel, while her home recording studio - Martian Engineering - is being built in a 300-year-old barn. The barn/studio is right beside Tori's house in Cornwall, England.

Martian Engineering, converted from a 300-year-old barn, sits just across the pebbly courtyard from the couple's main house. "We have a studio there, it is called Martian engineering. It is Cornwall... it is an old barn. It is kind of like our workshop with no pressure from the outside." [Gay.com chat - October 2, 1999]

The newly-wed couple bought a picturesque old English house, along a winding country road, complete with cats, a source, gardenwalls covered with climbing roses and a paved inner courtyard. The 300 year old barn that also belonged to the property, was rebuilt to a hypermodern recording studio, baptized as Martian Engineering.

"It would make a much nicer article if I could tell you that I personally built it with hammers and nails. But to be honest, I was sunbathing in Florida," the singer laughs, who knows better than anyone how cold it can get in Cornwall in January. "I always have a packed suitcase in the hall, in case I have to leave all of a sudden. Well, as the matter a fact, it is never-unpacked one I never unpack it, although I know that those clothes should be washed. I always give them to the dry-cleaners at the next place." [Aloha - November 1999]

March 4, 1997

* Silent All These Years is re-released as a single to promote RAINN - the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.

Read an article from Billboard about the single's re-release.

May 1997

* Tori miscarries a second time.

"I suffered my second miscarriage the following May, I don't think the pregnancy had ever really established itself, because of my endometriosis and the fact that I hadn't got over the grief of losing my first baby. I hemorrhaged constantly for 27 days and I lost the baby just weeks after conceiving. That pregnancy was never as hopeful as the others.

"After the second miscarriage Mark proposed and we decided to keep trying. I had my third miscarriage 18 months later, which was really devastating. I had such high hopes. I saw some of the best doctors in America, but none of them could see a reason why I couldn't stay pregnant. I was totally disheartened." [She (UK) - December 2003]

August 22, 1997

* Tori turns 34.

October 1997

* Tori begins recording from the choirgirl hotel at Martian Studios in Cornwall, England.

"After the miscarriage when I'd begun writing, I put it out there to Eric [Rosse], 'I'm kind of open to a drummer,' and he said, 'Well, I've found him.' And Matt came out and within five minutes of us playing together we just started giggling hysterically, going 'This is fun!' If you have the wrong drummer, the whole thing fails. Most drummers can't keep time, but he was always really aware of what the keyboards were doing because he felt the songs. I know that medium so well, because that's what I've been doing for 32 and a half years of my life, so that's how I define everything."

Despite the instant synergy, Amos says recording Choirgirl Hotel didn't always go smoothly. "We would wait for days sometimes for the Muse to show up, just going, 'She's not here,' there's just no passion in the room," she says with dead seriousness. "We would all know, you just feel it. You know when the high heels walk through the room, you go, 'Whooh.' You just see the leg, you see this ethereal leg stick itself in the studio and everyone goes, 'Oop, red light.'" [Phoenix New Times - September 24, 1998]

1998

"I have a speedboat, and every once in a while I'll go out with my dad," says Amos, who lives in England. "We'll have a cup of tea and talk theology. We go round and around on things: He'll give me the line that God can save people if they're devout, and I'll argue that that power is not outside of ourselves... The church needs for people to view it almost as a hedge against bad things. Fear is a motivation. But bad things will happen to good people. [Going to church] is no insurance against rape or incest or death... Every Friday night I have a margarita with a Christian God. I'll share the observations of my week, and ask for answers and try to keep an open mind. Then we both move on... Even the Christians who listen to my songs know that I'm chasing the dark side of myself and at the same time chasing the dark side of Christianity." [Philadelphia Inquirer - May 3, 1998]

"The funny thing is, my father's becoming liberal now. It's just fascinating. My nieces and nephews have no idea their grandfather was such a Victorian - no short skirts; stay a virgin until you're married. 'Gird your loins' was his favorite saying. Now he sounds like Alice Walker. At 70 you go, 'Glad it's happening; wish you were there.' He has no idea how rigid he was 25 years ago, and I don't have the heart to tell him." [Alternative Press - July 1998]

* Tori admits that she only pretended to be kooky.

What's your greatest talent? "Pretending to be kooky for the British." [New Musical Express - May 1998]

What kinds of things do you do when you're not on tour, and have time to yourself?

"Well, I like to race my little boat. It's really small, a 14-footer, but I like being out on the water. Once I took it into the big ocean when it was really calm, and it was so humbling, because you don't see land in the distance, like on a river. I said to myself, Oh, my God, how massive this living, breathing organism is...

"What else do I like to do? I like books, and I wish I could take a mythology class, I'm really fascinated with mythology, whether it's Egyptian, Hebrew, Celtic, Native American, whatever. I'm fascinated by cultures and what their belief systems are. Unfortunately, this has been watered down in the media to Tinkerbell philosophy. I call it Tinkerbell Smegma...

"The history of the elemental world as many of you know goes back thousands of years, and it gets put into this New Age diluted kind of philosophy, very white bread, that would probably get these journalists their nose removed if they urinated on Celtic mythology to some of these Irish guys in a pub in Ireland. A lot of the media has a disrespect for other people's ancient belief systems. And you can't really commercialize it; it's too old to be commercialized. So the sensationalism of mythology is unfortunate." [Yahoo chat - August 5, 1998]

January 6, 1998

* The soundtrack to the film Great Expectations is released, which includes the Tori Amos/Patrick Doyle song, Siren.

"I didn't enjoy doing Great Expectations in the end because it got politically weird and people weren't forthright anymore. and, you have to understand something, having a studio tell me what to do after we'd made an agreement isn't what I considered having integrity. So, in my world, we have a team of people and we talk about things and we make decisions based on the creativity. And we sometimes have our hiccups and stuff, but musicians are sometimes just extraneous for film people and I don't see writing songs as extraneous. Obviously, it's not the center of the film, but there needs to be a level of respect and some film people forget that. When I remind them of that, they seemed quite shocked. When in actuality, I call it just bad manners." [AOL chat - September 29, 1999]

February 22, 1998

* Tori marries Mark Hawley (from Lincolnshire), her sound engineer, in a little church in West Wycombe, England.

* It's also Tori's half-birthday.

         

Read more about the wedding, and see more photos.

"I thought about it, and if I'd got married in front of a judge, well, that wouldn't have meant anything to me. And, sure, I could have got married in the middle of the mountains and all the other nature spirits could have been there, but... In the end I tried to find a place that was very sacred. This place was an ancient site since the Bronze Age, and a pagan one before it was a church, and the vicar honoured that." [The Times (UK) - April 4, 1998]

April 1998

* Tori Amos tours with a band for the first time. Tori and her band - Steve Caton (guitars), Matt Chamberlain (drums) and Jon Evans (bass) - begin rehearing for the upcoming world tour. They rehearse at a place called The Depot in London.

"I need a way for the excitement level for the band to be there, especially if it's going to be a long tour. They need to feel respected and challenged. That's my belief for both the band and the crew. We have about a forty-person crew with the band on the road. And of course, they're not there because they're my friends. Later they may become my friends, as with Caton (guitarist Steve Caton) who I've known for years. And Matt (Chamberlain, drummer) is becoming a friend and Jon (bassist) I just met. They become friends but that's not why they're there. And that's the greatest compliment. You're not there because you're my friend, you're there because you're great." [Musician - July 1998]

"..Johnny [Witherspoon, tour manager] said last week, "You know the album is coming out and you know you made a choice not to make Ford Fiestas." When you make cars by hand, well, some people don't want that and it's a specialized thing. But you can't go, "Yeah, but everyone else wants this other thing." Sometimes you really have to not live your life by your number. You know your music gets out there, but when it's just you and musicians and everything it's one thing. But once your record gets out and you get your number... I mean, every week, it's like, [cringing] "I don't want to know! Don't tell me I'm 170." It's like, is that what I'm worth, this number?

"...And then you go, wait a minute, what if we did this to the great painters, some of whom never sold a painting in their lifetime? I'm really trying to talk to musicians who are frustrated, because I know, I understand, and I see their pain. I'm not complaining; I'm very lucky. I don't have to work three jobs, but I used to, and I got where I am today. I created this. I'm thankful that I had encouragement and stuff, but sometimes I didn't. I just knew that I wanted to play music. I didn't want anything else. I didn't want to be a music teacher, it wasn't in me. Even though some of them were so patient to have me as a student. I didn't think I could do it. I'm fortunate and yet, once you step into that commercial music world, it's a minefield and you've got to work it out internally. You really can't buy into self-worth by what your number on the Billboard chart is." [Musician - July 1998]

* The April issue of Musikexpress/Sounds (German) lists Tori's top ten favorite albums...

1. Led Zeppelin - Box Set
2. Marvin Gaye - Greatest Hits
3. David Bowie - Aladdin Sane
4. The Beatles - White Album
5. Janis Joplin - Pearl
6. Kate Bush - Hounds of Love
7. The Cure - Mixed Up
8. Talk Talk - Spirit of Eden
9. The Pretenders - Pretenders
10. Stevie Wonder - Inner Visions

* Tori comments on Hounds of Love: "I love the second side of this album. I was in Los Angeles when I heard this record for the first time. I was hanging out in the rock chick scene. Thigh-high boots, gigantic amounts of hairspray, and everything. I had encountered nothing but rejection for months, nobody liked my piano stuff. And I was in a band that did something completely different. Then I found this record, and put it on, listened to side one, liked it OK, listened to side two, listened to side two again, and again, and again and again, (sings) 'You can't hear me, you can't hear what I'm saying, you didn't hear me come in, you won't hear me leaving.' This turned me inside out. It changed my life. I decided to leave the man with whom I shared an apartment; I left the man I was living with because of this record."

April 10, 1998

* Tori's seventh appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman in New York City. She performs Spark accompanied by her band (Steve Caton, Matt Chamberlain & Jon Evans). [click for photos]

April 18, 1998

* Tori launches a 12-date Sneak Preview Club Tour in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida at the Chili Pepper and lands in Los Angeles on May 6. This marks the first time Tori has ever toured with a band. Long-time collaborator Steve Caton plays guitars, Jon Evans plays bass and Matt Chamberlain played the drums. [tour details]

"I'm trying to be healthy because this tour's pretty demanding... I don't want to embarrass myself and end up with an oxygen tank by the side of the piano... Truth is, I'd be ready to have a cardiac.

"I have to play a synth on my right, a piano on my left, so I sort of look like an octopus that ate too many nachos. When I played alone, I had to be drums and bass. Now there's a drummer and bass player, which means I don't have to do that job anymore. But you can't pretend to the audience that you're not inspired to improve... I'm definitely excited, but if my shoes are yellow, don't tell anybody.

"If you go without training, you hurt your voice, or you give bad performances because you're not accurate anymore. It's the precision that takes the energy. If I were just singing, it wouldn't take one-tenth of what it's taking. But I wanted to be able to keep up with the other players. I'm not bitching about it, but I still have two jobs onstage... It takes a lot, so I'm really trying to work on the cardiovascular end of things in the morning, and that's part of idea to keep being able to do these shows.

"More than anything, the sneak preview [tour of small clubs] is just what that is: It's like the audience is watching us sort it all out. We haven't quite sorted it out yet. That's why I wanted to do it in really small clubs, where it's more intimate. People are a little more not-so-mean-and-nasty. I wanted to feel like we were in their living room, like some local band that's trying to figure it out. You know, friends playing in front of friends.

"They're some of the best musicians. You dream of this when you're a little kid.... You wish you could play with people you can marvel at, and I'm lucky enough to have that opportunity. I'm also hearing some of the old songs transform. I'm doing songs from the other records, like a trance version of 'Horses.'

"...The crew is very excited. I've never seen them so chipper. They're so happy-they love all the rhythm, all the racket. Hopefully it's racket that makes sense, because it doesn't take much to just be loud. It's funny, because one of the guys on the crew, he hasn't been with me since the 'Pink' tour, and has since done Oasis and some other bands. He walked in yesterday, flew in from England, and just sat down with his jaw hanging open. That's a high compliment.

"I guess more than anything, when you play piano alone, it's about content-the arrangements and what's happening structure-wise. So, I haven't added drums just to have a beat in back, or so people can feel more comfortable. I added it because it makes sense to certain songs. The bridge in 'Cruel' is like a Radio Afghanistan moment. It's about what's right for the song. If that means military drums, then it's military drums. If that means drums that swirl around you and crawl into every orifice you have, that's what it's supposed to be."

"I love these players. It's always about encouraging other people. They know that I can have two heads-a conceptual, arranger's head, and then the artist's head. And sometimes I have to put the artist aside, because what she's doing maybe isn't as good as what the bass player is doing. My commitment is to the best choice. Obviously, somebody's got to make the final decision of 'This lick is better here' or 'This groove is better here,' but I think the musicians and engineers feel a lot of freedom.

"The main thing I want is that the players feel challenged as players, and Number 2 that they're always thinking about the soul of a song. I obviously picked players who aren't about having to make a piece the way they want to make it. We're not U2. That's not what this is. They have a certain respect from me, and they know that's why they're here.

"To do as many shows as we're talking about doing, everybody's got to feel valued. So that's what [tour manager] Johnny and I try to do, and yet at the same time, when you get so many people who are so good at what they do, a lot of hairs can get up on a lot of people's heads... I piss people off daily, but the truth is, everybody on my crew is a human, and they have bad days, and I know that. But there has to be a commitment to excellence, or you're not gonna be happy here, and I'm gonna drive you insane, and give you a plane ticket within 24 hours.

"Didn't you, when you were little, want to do something where the biggest turn-on was to wake up and have self-respect? That's where this is at... Are you familiar with the Chinese horoscope? I'm a Leo Cat... If you understand that creature, you know it's really about refinement and things being achieved at a level where you go, 'OK, we've achieved yumminess here.'

"You have to know when your crew's exhausted. You have to know, 'OK it's tea time now.' I think that's the balance. You and I both know you're not going to be perfect on every song, so it's in the striving, in the journey, knowing that everybody's committed to getting there... Playing all the notes right has never been my goal-it's trying to capture the soul of a piece. Of course, you want to drop as few clunkers as possible.

"There's also a huge respect for the muse around here. Even the most cynical Brits around here know the muse won't come if she's dishonored.... There's a lot of philosophy that goes along with the tours. We don't do this all by ourselves-there's a universal force out there. They've seen it happen onstage. When I'm just walking around, I'm not plugged into this force. But when it's time to take the stage.... The other musicians know this, because they believe in this force. If you sing to the mermaids, they come when you're drowning." [Detroit Free Press - April 28, 1998]

"Keeping fit is a constant discipline. The Voice is a muscle and I have to take care of it... I'm really not supposed to have any dairy...You've gotta watch the red wine (dries up the vocal cords)...You gotta watch the bread, make a lot of phlegm. I had to rethink my approach, I'm working out with someone on the road. I've been bad the last 3 days. You have to get the heart rate up. To really put on a good show, it's about physical fact. I'm having to put my body into shape. There are some people on the road who are really extreme in their diet... I can't exist without decadence; it has to be balanced with temperance. Alcohol dries the throat out, so does vinegar, even Balsamic, but you have to have a little of these things or you walk around with a frown. My secret is ginger, organic honey...olive oil, extra virgin, lubricates those cords; Protein, Major Buddy. Brown Rice - Give it to the Divas! Lubrication is the key, but works for passion, doesn't work for the throat!" [Yahoo chat - April 13, 1998]

"I got into Chinese medicine. I have these elixirs on the road that are pretty potent stuff. Loads of Echinacea, Golden Seal and Siberian Ginseng. They help my throat a lot. They do for you what prescription drugs can't." [Illinois Entertainer - September 1998]

"My hands are pretty good. Sometimes I have carpal-tunnel problems, but we're angling the piano in different ways. One of the engineers is a physicist so we deal with different angles of the piano to give my hands a break. And now that I'm playing half the night on my right side things are better. I used to play only piano, but now I play part of the show on the synth, so I'm giving my shoulder a rest. But it's really the hardest on my jaw. You don't know this, but I have chronic, chronic TMJ. I've had it since I was 15. Part of my jaw doesn't go into the bone-which is a hook and pulling my skull to the right. And what happens is my right side goes into spasm and my neck and shoulder get almost paralytic. And so, I have braces at night I have to wear and I can hardly talk. I can't do interviews in the braces although they would help me. That's really where my handicap is-or because you can't say handicap anymore, its my physical challenge.

"But, at the same time, I love it so much. What it gives to you on an endorphin level the gym could never give me. It's emotional. So you make up for it was an incredible structure on the road. We have a chef on the road that makes really healthy food and I have a wine cellar on the road. It has to be good wine or you get sick and can't play anymore. It hurts the voice. Everything is discipline-major Chinese medicine on the road. Everyone-go to the Tea Garden in LA-they'll make an elixir for you. They do it for the Stones. Look at Keith Richards. How does he keep going? I'm telling you it's the Chinese medicine, along with the blood transfusions. Chinese medicine has changed my touring. And sometimes you have to roll on the low-dose steroids when you can't breathe in towns. You have to make sure that on every level it's all in balance. The body is like a formula-one racing car. You're not the driver, you're the car... and you have to keep going." [Student Advantage - Winter 1998]

April 25, 1998

* Tori summons the Salem witches...

"In Boston the other night, I called on the Salem witches a lot, the women that were murdered, on an energetic level to try to release that Puritanical judgment. You call on different forces. Moments in history, tangible things that have happened, that still live in the ether somewhere and have affected the way we got here. I think you can cross time and space with those throbbing moments in time that are still running through our veins." [Alternative Press - July 1998]

May 5, 1998


* From the Choirgirl Hotel is released, debuting at number 5 in America, and selling 153,000 copies its first week.

"This album has more rhythm integrated more into its song structure. I recorded live with the drummer Matt Chamberlain, except the song 'Jackie's Strength' which was built around my piano vocal. The sound effects became very much a part of the arrangements." [Yahoo chat - April 13, 1998]

"...It surprises me. I listen to this album and I smile. It happened and I didn't know it. I found a way to dance with sorrow." [Vox - June 1998]

May 7, 1998

* Alternative radio station KROQ sponsors a free early-morning Tori performance and interview in the parking lot of the Palace Theater in Los Angeles. Tori and the band perform Black-Dove (January), Spark, Waitress, She's Your Cocaine, and Cornflake Girl.

"What I've found is the primal rhythm. I knew the songs could hold their own, but what's been amazing is the way they've opened up and blossomed. It's like the songs gained three new mothers [the band - Steve, Matt & Jon]."

She chuckles at the suggestion that the primal beat might be traced to her late maternal grandfather, who was part Cherokee. But then she chews on the thought.

"It's true that my music has a sense of ritual in it. I very much want to create an atmosphere, a feeling of reverence. That was my grandfather completely... He really instilled in me the beauty of all things. We'd go for walks when I was a little girl and he'd say, 'What do you see?' I'd tell him I saw a pile of dirt. He'd go, 'You are not my granddaughter. What do you see?' And I'd try to describe the dirt, and that wasn't it either... For him, every word held an association. Everything was a metaphor for something larger. Even in tragedy he would find a lesson or a rite of passage... It's really hit me recently that that's one thing I've been trying to do... I had no idea I would carry him so close to me." [Philadelphia Inquirer - May 3, 1998]

May 11, 1998

* Tori's seventh appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in Los Angeles. She performs Spark accompanied by her band (Steve Caton, Matt Chamberlain & Jon Evans). [click for photos]

May 20, 1998

* European leg of the Plugged Tour kicks off in Liverpool, UK, at Royal Court Theatre.

July 15, 1998

* North American leg of the Plugged Tour starts in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, at Mecca Auditorium.

July 27, 1998

* Tori's eighth appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman in New York City. She performs Jackie's Strength accompanied by her band (Steve Caton, Matt Chamberlain & Jon Evans). [click for photos]

August 22, 1998

* Tori turns 35.

September 17, 1998

* Tori's eighth appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in Los Angeles. She performs Jackie's Strength accompanied by her band (Steve Caton, Matt Chamberlain & Jon Evans). [click for photos]

October 1998

* Tori decides that her next project will be a live album of songs from the Plugged 98 tour.

Where did the inspiration for To Venus and Back come?

"The initial jolt was when I was having a really good Corton-Charlemagne with two of my girlfriends in Ohio. I think it was a Dayton show, but it was near the end of the tour last year. And I knew that we were doing a live record and at the time I thought we were doing a B-side record with a few extra tracks, not knowing what the few extra tracks were at all because they hadn't been written yet. So, my two friends were coming up with all sorts of things and I knew I had to go to somewhere and back from somewhere. Finally, after all of, you can imagine the silliness, Natalie looked at me and said, you'd go to Venus and back if you could. And I looked at her and said, absolutely wherever Venus is, I would go there.

"Now that the title was in place, strangely enough, songs started to come and visit me. And, not one at a time, but several motifs and themes would come belonging to very different essences. I knew that we were starting to go through the live DATs end of February of '99. What I didn't realize is all the songs were coming or that a new album was in the birthing. When I ended at and the Cornwall, at the end of February, which is where Martian Engineering is, my hangout, I had no idea even still that I was making a new record. And I played all the songs from Mark & Marcel who engineered this album and mixed it. and they looked at me and said that sonically these songs really would sound random if I put them on a B-side compilation.

"As I opened up much more to the Venus spectrum, people have been sending me information on Venus mythology. I should say Venusian, I guess. And I don't just mean in the sense of a woman, but in the sense of feminine consciousness. And it's quite strange how none of these songs started to come except for Juarez, which came while I was in Texas. Which is where I'm talking to you from right now. And only that came in bits and pieces and that was in October of last year." [AOL chat - September 29, 1999]

November 6, 1998

* Tori's Bösendorfer gets sick. [click here to read the story]

December 3, 1998

* The Plugged Tour ends in East Lansing, Michigan, at Breslin Events Center. The last 2 shows of the tour are video-recorded for possible future release.


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